New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Tuesday asked the Election Commission (EC) to state the facts behind its decision to disqualify the 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit by filing an affidavit.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar asked the poll panel to file the affidavit after the EC said it wanted to respond to some of the allegations made in the MLAs’ pleas challenging their disqualification from the Delhi assembly.
The EC also told the court that it would rely upon the opinion it gave to the President to disqualify the 20 AAP MLAs who were appointed as parliamentary secretaries. When the matter was taken up for hearing initially, the court asked the petitioners to go through the poll panel’s synopsis of the case and then decide if affidavits are needed. Subsequently, the matter was taken up again after everyone perused EC’s synopsis.
In the second round of proceedings, the Delhi HC bench said that the 250-page long synopsis, containing various documents, was very big and asked the EC to file a shorter one on affidavit.
“A synopsis of 250 pages. It cannot be that big," the court observed.
After the brief proceedings, the court listed the matter for further hearing on 7 February by when the AAP MLAs have to file their responses to the EC affidavit. It allowed advocate Prashant Patel, on whose plea the EC had recommended the AAP MLAs disqualification, to state his stand on the MLAs’ pleas.
The court also extended till 7 February the interim order restraining EC from issuing any notification announcing bypolls to fill the vacancies of the 20 assembly seats whose legislators have been disqualified. The matter was transferred to a division bench on Monday after Patel moved an application for transfer of the petitions to a division bench.
On 24 January, Delhi high court refused to stay the centre’s notification disqualifying the MLAs, but restrained the EC from taking any “precipitate measures" like announcing dates for bypolls. It had earlier summoned the entire records pertaining to proceedings leading to EC’s recommendation for AAP MLAs disqualification, which received the president’s assent on 20 January.